Web set to convey legal data

Information purveyor Lawpoint is 'Webifying' its applications with the help of development tools from Forte.

Lawpoint has about 3000 active clients, all with more than one user, according to Malcolm Fry, manager, networks and operating systems.

He said clients can access information via terminal emulation software and log in to Lawpoint's VT100 character cell interface. Most of Lawpoint's clients are solicitors who access land and corporate information from a number of government agencies.

Fry said the Forte software was purchased in August and Lawpoint was now concentrating on rollout and staff training. He said the first new service developed on Forte should be rolled out in the first quarter next year.

"The Forte project is a large project requiring increased personnel," Fry said. "We currently have 10 developers, all of whom are being trained on the Forte system, and we will increase this number to 20 over the next 18 months, to cover all the proposed projects."

Lawpoint is using Forte Application Environment and Web Enterprise to develop enterprise-strength networked applications so its customers can better access information, Fry said. It has also signed up for consulting and training services from Forte.

"We always knew we would eventually move to the Web, it was just a matter of timing," Fry said.

"Our concern was having it integrate with our VT100 system, and not simply replace it."

To that end, Forte worked with Lawpoint to write code to enable the two systems to integrate.

Fry said Lawpoint had a list of 10 objectives it needed in the product. Those requirements included platform independence and scalability, increasing productivity, reducing time to market with applications and code re-use. Fry wouldn't reveal the other products the company tested, but he said they weren't considered because they lacked enterprise strength.

Lawpoint is currently in the process of developing its Web interface and expects its first new service to go live in early-1999.

Lawpoint is planning "several major" projects for the next year or so, including putting the title information for the Queensland Department of Natural Resources online. Existing services will be moved to the Internet, either by re-writing or by adding Forte Web interfaces to the existing code.

"Lawpoint is also a broker for Land Registry in Victoria, which is responsible for Land information in that state. Land Registry intends to convert 80 per cent of its manual titles to electronic form by the end of 1999, which will allow us to develop new online services," Fry said.

Copyright © 1998 IDG Communications, Inc.

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